What Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has to do to win the Heisman

By Chris Huston | College Football Writer
Tajh Boyd must build on his 3,828 yards passing and 33 touchdowns to have a shot at the Heisman.(US Presswire)

We released the 2012 CBSSports.com Preseason Heisman Watch on Monday. Now it's time to go into further detail on the Heisman chances of each of the top 10 candidates.

First up, Clemson junior quarterback Tajh Boyd, who checks in at No. 10 on the list.

It's important to realize that Boyd's inclusion on this list does not mean that we think he has a really good chance to win the Heisman. Rather, it's an acknowledgement that he is one of several candidates with the potential to catch fire statistically and break into the top tier should some of the favorites falter down the line.

The basis for Boyd's long shot candidacy relies on section (C) of Heismandment No. 5, which reads:

The winner must be one or more of the following three: (a) The top player on a national title contender. (b) A player who puts up good numbers for a traditional power that has a good record or (c) A player who puts up superlative single-season or career numbers on a good team, or has numbers that are way out ahead of his Heisman competitors.

In other words, unless Clemson somehow ends up challenging for a national title, Boyd's likely Heisman route is to follow the Robert Griffin III model. That means producing a superior statistical season while helping Clemson to at least become relevant on a national level.

Based on what Boyd has done so far in his career, these items seem well within reach. After all, in 2011 Boyd threw for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns (while rushing for 218 and another five scores) in his first year as a starter. Thanks in large part to Boyd's development, Clemson won its first ACC title since 1991.

To make a statistical splash in this year's Heisman race, Boyd must dramatically improve his numbers in a few categories, namely completion percentage (59.7% last year), interceptions (12) and pass efficiency (141.17).

Not only will improvement in those numbers increase his overall effectiveness as a quarterback, they'll also help voters in the evaluation process. To wit, Griffin III's remarkable efficiency rating and superior touchdown-to-interception ratio last year gave voters plenty of ammunition to choose him over Andrew Luck. Boyd must provide voters a similarly compelling basis for choosing him as well.

Working in Boyd's favor in this regard is the system in which he plays and the talent that surrounds him. Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris--a Gus Malzahn protege--did a remarkable job transforming the Clemson offense last year and his scheme is quarterback friendly. Boyd's receivers include super sophomore Sammy Watkins and the rapidly-improving DeAndre Hopkins. He will not lack for targets.

On the team front, Clemson will have to repeat as ACC champs. Beating SEC foe Auburn in the opener without Watkins (who must serve a two-game suspension) would be a real feather in Boyd's cap to start things off. Florida State in Tallahassee in week four, Virginia Tech in late October and South Carolina at season's end are obvious games for Boyd to make his Heisman case.

To sum up, Boyd must, at minimum, lead his team to another ACC title while producing statistics that are clearly superior to his competitors in the race. Even taking all that for granted, he'll need several more-established players ahead of him to screw up.

It's not easy to win a Heisman. The hill that Boyd must climb to capture the trophy proves that.

 
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